Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finished Reading: The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for ChangeWelcome to "Finished Reading!" Where I'm so darned happy to actually complete a book I'll go ahead and blog about it, hooray!

Annie Leonard, former Greenpeace activist, has traveled to over 40 countries researching where our waste goes. Her 20 minute film The Story of Stuff, is an internet sensation receiving over 10 million views. She now has several other films including the latest, The Story of Cosmetics. It explains what goes into making all the wonderful Stuff we consume and what happens along the way of the entire lifecycle of a product, from extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal. The message is: Stuff is so cheap because the Earth and local communities (and the global community) pay the real the price, we are subsidizing our own future to buy cheap good and let industry get away with murder (sometimes literally).

I was excited to see The Story of Stuff in book form, even happier to see it at the library on the New Books shelf. I thought it was going to be a quick engaging read, but it is so jammed packed with information that I felt like I could get college credit for reading it. First you learn a little more about Annie Leonard and see that she is not just some fast talking hippie on a mission, she is very educated and experienced in her line of work. Next The Story of Stuff takes each piece of the video and expands on it greatly. It is a very eye opening read! Every item in your home, your cosmetic kit, your craft bin, and kids toy box will have you wondering how much damage did this one item cause just to land in my home and be used for a short time?? She also explores the issue of is all this Stuff even making us happier? Not surprisingly the answer is No. Human beings are most happiest when we return to what is important, a strong sense of community and a link with nature.

I have to admit at times it was hard to get through the whole book, 352 (100% recycled) pages, as it can make you feel that things are very bleak in this day and age. But Leonard, who buys nothing new and lives near friends in Berkley who pool resources, does offer alternative ways we could be going about doing things, highlighting groups, innovations, laws, simple lifestyle changes and choices that are better. Overall, I highly recommend The Story of Stuff, its going on all around us!

P.S. Check out out Virginia Sole-Smith's 6 Part Questions for Annie Leonard


  1. I just say The Story of Cosmetics this morning-scary stuff!

  2. I need to head over to see it but Im sure its a big eye opener. I love that her film company keeps coming out with more and more. Alhamdulillah there really arent too many times a Muslimah can even wear makeup, even if it looks natural its still a waterproof barrier to wudu